Oh, boy. Here we go, I guess.
Tom Wright’s Catalyza – Book 1: Origins is a deeply flawed novella. It just does so much wrong. I don’t even know why the book is called Catalyza. The word isn’t even mentioned once.
The author is obviously obsessed with race. Aisha, the main character, it black. If you forget this, don’t worry, because it’s mentioned or referenced on every page. Every person in the book is described by their skin color. And the character is obsessed with going to a black church (and won’t go to a white church), making black friends, joining black social clubs (and won’t join clubs that are ‘too white’), sitting next to black students in class, not going to white parties, and avoiding white policemen because they’re all racist. Oh, and this was written by a white guy (which actually makes sense. I can’t imagine a black person is that obsessed with race. I mean, I’m Jewish. Very Jewish. I stand out in a crowd. I wear a yarmulke in public, and have gotten my share antisemitic remarks as a result. Yet I don’t go around thinking ‘Jew,Jew,Jew, oh, are they Jewish? oh, a Christian group, I’ll avoid them. Jew,Jew,Jew.’ I’m a person, plain and simple. And I’m sure African Americans or Muslims feel the same way). This book seems obsessed with race in only the way that someone who isn’t part of that of that group can be.
But I could be forgiving of that little quirk if everything else was good. It’s not. There’s also so much minutia here. Conversations and scenes that go nowhere. Its frustrating. I don’t want to read four paragraphs of how many movies you watched before bed, or a page of exchanging pleasantries with people over the phone!
As for the plot, it follows a girl, Aisha, through her first few days in college. She goes to church, gets involved in a protest, gets superpowers, saves someone from an accident she caused, and goes to a party when she and her friend almost gets date raped (at which point she endangers their lives and plants false evidence to frame them when calling the police doesn’t work. Naturally the potential date rapists are white guys, who she was initially distrustful of because they were white). That’s the whole story, basically. It ends with a teaser that our hero still plans on taking down a corrupt police officer. <sarcasm>Because having the power to essentially control time means that such a task will be a huge challenge.</sarcasm> Also worth mentioning, during the story, she reveals her powers, which she just discovered hours before, to her professor whom she barely knows (she only met once, the day prior). Not the brightest of people, I suppose.
A couple of panels from Milestone’s Icon
I’m not saying this story doesn’t deal with important issues. It just deals it poorly. There are much better ways to go about it, where you don’t cause your audience to eyeroll or feel like they’re being preached to. Look at one of my favorite comic books, Icon, for example. It deals with race, tensions between African Americans and cops, even abortion, and its all done in a non-hamfisted way. It makes the reader think about the issues without making them realize it, while feeling just like an average (or really good) superhero comic. This story feels like the reader is being hit over the head with a mallet of the author’s personal propaganda.
So yes, this was a bad book. The worst one I’ve reviewed thus far. In a way though, I’m morbidly curious about the next book in the series. Like watching a plane crash, it may be horrible, but I just can’t look away.
I’m obviously not going to be posting this review to Amazon or Goodreads, as I don’t believe there’s a reason to ever post any review two stars or less on an indie book (unless it’s purposefully offensive or meant to rip people off). But it crossed my mind.